Skip to main content

tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  September 5, 2013 10:00am-11:01am PDT

10:00 am
qaeda was a majority of the rebel force. today, president obama works the sidelines of the summit. trying to persuade allies to get on board. >> i also look forward to having an extensive conversation about the situation in syria and i think our joint recognition that the use of chemical weapons in syria is not only a tragedy but also a violation of international law that must be addressed. >> but the president's policy is facing strong pushback here at home. congress deeply divided. the senate foreign relations committee voted to support the president 10-7. but added time limits and requirements that he come up with a strategy for syria within 30 days. and so far the house isn't buying it. >> not one member in my district in south carolina or the e-mails of people that have contacted my office say go to syria and fight this regime. to a letter, they say no. >> i'm not going to sit here and be told by you that i don't have the sense of what the judgment is with respect to this.
10:01 am
>> meanwhile, syria's glamorous first lady still trying to sugarcoat the regime on the web. and "the new york times" front page displays a horrifying picture. rebels allegedly executing government troops. >> who are the good guys over there in syria? >> you're referring to the opposition, i assume. >> do you implicitly trust these people? >> well, that's not my business to trust. >> well certainly it has to be the business, because you're making decisions to go in to a war and put american lives at risk. >> good day i'm andrea mitchell in washington. president obama and president putin smiled for the cameras earlier today but they're rift over syria is as wide and deep as the grand canyon. ben rhodes is president obama's deputy national security adviser
10:02 am
for strategic communication and joins us from st. petersburg from the summit. ben, thanks for joining us. i know we have a little bit of a satellite delay. we'll try to compensate for that. but what can the president do facing the opposition from president putin, the strong language that putin used against secretary kerry, and the continual opposition from the united states. >> andrea, we don't expect the russians to support action in syria. the fact of the matter is for nearly two years now they've repeatedly blocked action through the security council. they've opposed efforts to have a resolution of opposing chemical weapons bradley. i think what the president is doing in st. petersburg is the same thing we're going to do in washington which is make our case. make our case that the assad regime used chemical weapons, gassed to death hundreds of children over 1,000 people and violated a fundamental international norm that is key to american international security and to global security. so what we're doing here in st.
10:03 am
petersburg is talking to allies and partners. and looking to them to express political and diplomatic support for the notion that we have to uphold these international norms, we have to see to it at a dictator cannot get away with gassing his own people with impunity. >> what do you say about what vladimir putin told his council? i saw a debate in congress. a congressman asks mr. kerry is al aid qaeda there and he said no i'm telling you resonsbly it was not. this was very unplease and and surprising to me. we talked to him, but he is knowing and he knows that he's lying this is sad. that's putin speaking about the secretary of state. >> well, look, president putin has been known for the years to use colorful language. the fact of the matter is we've been very clear about our assessment about the opposition. we've said there are elements that we believe are extremists and we've designated al nusra as a terrorist organization. however we believe that the broad imagine tr orty of the
10:04 am
syrian opposition is moderate and wants to be free from a dictator who kills them in the thousands and gases children to death. we provided assistance to a moderate opposition which is in our interest not only because we believe syria should have the future without president assad, but by providing assistance for more moderate opposition can we ensure that we're isolating those extremist elements. we want to make sure the extremists are not the most powerful opposition force in the country. we want to make sure the moderates, the syrian military opposition, the syrian military council, that they're empowered. that's why we've taken the position to provide military assistance so the moderate opposition is stronger. >> ben i know you're over there, but i know you've heard about the front page of "the new york times" today. which has this picture, this horrifying picture, which sho shows -- allegedly shows rebel forces executing government troops. so how can we talk about the moderates, and how do you vet them properly and arm them and
10:05 am
train them and send them back in and know that they're not as brutal as the regime they're trying to overturn? >> it's a good question andrea. the fact of the matter is we obviously condemn any human rights violation by any party. the fact of the matter is the which in which we've set up our assistance is to carefully vet the people that we're working with. there have been some complaints for instance in congress that it's taken a long time for assistance to reach into the country. but the reason why is that we want to establish not just a pipeline to assistance flows into the country we want to know who we're working with. so we carefully vet all of the opposition figures that the we do work with. and we believe that the broad majority of the opposition is not extremists, they're people who want a better future. i just make a couple of other points andrea, first of all we've said to president putin the longer this conflict goes on the greater the risk that you have not just human rights abuses but a place where extremism can take root and that's why we tried to invest in a political process through the geneva process that we and the russians agreed to. and which there's a transition to a new government. now we believe assad has to
10:06 am
leave power as a part of that transition process because he's lost legitimacy to lead. but i also want to be very clear. the military action that the president is considering is not focused on resolving the conflict in syria. long ago we determined this is not a war for us to enter. there's no military solution to the conflict. that's why we have this political process. what we're focused on is how do you respond to the use of chemical weapons. a weapon that has been banned for decades by the international community through the geneva protocol and has captured in the chemical weapons convention which says there should be a prohibition on the use of this weapon. if we don't send a message to assad but other dictators and terrorist groups will have the message that the international community doesn't mean what it says and they can act with impunity and that's a danger not just to the syrian people as tragic as their loss of life has been it's also a danger to american national security, the region, including our allies, like turkey and jordan and israel, and frankly to the global norms against the use of weapons of mass destruction upon which global security depends.
10:07 am
>> but aren't our allies and adversaries getting the message that america is not only wishy-washy about this and indecisive but you have members of congress challenging the policy saying that they are hearing from their constituents overwhelmingly against this? right now you face the real prospect you're going to lose this in the house and you've got ed markey a newly elected senator voting present on a matter of war and peace. what do you say to that? >> i'd say first of all, this is a healthy debate that we should have. it's important that the country debates these issues and invests in the course of action that we take. and frankly the president chose to take this to congress in part because he wanted to send a message to the world that this just wasn't his decision. that the full congress of the united states was invested in the action that the american people and that the american military would take again in taking a limited strike against syrian regime targets in response to this use of chemical weapons. so again we'll be much stronger
10:08 am
internationally, not just at home but internationally, when congress passes this resolution, and authorizes this use of military force. we understand members of congress will have questions, particularly after a decade when we've been in war in iraq and afghanistan, but the fact of the matter is what we're contemplating here is very different. there would be no boots on the ground. it would not an an open-ended intervention. it wouldn't even be open-ended in the way libya instituted a no-fly zone. we're talking about a strike that imposes real consequences on the syrian regime and sepds a message that we're going to deter the use of chemical weapons, we're going to degrade the capabilities of the assad regime. i think that's a message thats american people can get behind because it's the type of limited action that protects our national security interests that makes clear that you can't gas hundreds of children to death and not face consequences, but again, also, understands that we're not going to put our troops in the middle 6 somebody else's civil war. we're going to look out for the fundamental international norms that we depend on for our own security and make clear that the glassing of children crosses the line that the international
10:09 am
community long ago established was out of bounds. >> ben rhodes from st. petersburg, thank you very much for joining us today. and joining me now for our daily fix nbc capitol hill correspondent kelly o'donnell. and chris cillizza. and our nbc chief white house correspondent chuck todd is going to be joining us live from russia in just a moment. kelly first to you. you're just back from grand rapids where you were sampling public opinion as you reported last night on "nbc nightly news" it was lopsided against doing this. >> so much so, andrea. i attended a series of meetings that were specifically about syria, people came out with strong feelings, there were a few people we talked to who were open to the idea of a military strike. believing the u.s. needs to do something, although they were not overtly in favor of it. but the overwhelming sentiment was against it. and that makes it a much more difficult question for lawmakers. i was with a republican congressman from michigan, all
10:10 am
indications are based on what he was saying and what he was hearing from his constituents that he would be a no vote which was somewhat expected. we just heard from the head of the senate intelligence committee dianne feinstein, who has just come out of a briefing today, that she will vote yes, and part of what she has learned during this briefing is more information that she says could be persuasive to her colleagues. she said she has asked the cia to prepare sort of a dvd of additional photos, information, things that they can use to try to make the case to fellow colleagues. the numbers are not looking so good right now in terms of the president's position on this, as you were just discussing with ben. it's a tough sell based on what people around the country are telling their members of congress. andrea? >> and chuck todd you're over there in st. petersburg. the president clearly not going to have a great time with putin. what about pushback from other allies? well the goal it seems to
10:11 am
me, here, according to white house aides is they're going to try to get as many countries to be -- go public supporting them from this g-20 and sort of the bank shot strategy here andrea is that if let's say they can get 10 of the 20 and if you look at the roster, you putd the nato allies that are in here, that means convincing germany and italy to go public. they haven't necessarily gone public. throw in korea, you've got saudi arabia. they think they can get to ten. they could say they have half the g-20 and that that would help them, even if it's just rhetorical support for this, that that would help them with skeptical democrats back home. that ultimately there are a lot of democrats who say that they want to see more of an international -- more international support, more international coalition, and that's at the end of the day what they're hoping to get out of this. we'll find out tomorrow is the day that you'll actually hear from leaders. one of the things, sort of the news out of here so far on syria is that during the opening
10:12 am
session, putin, who's chairing it, since this is -- he's the host leader here, said let's table any discussion on syria until the dinner tonight. and that dinner doesn't start for about another hour, in our half. that's when you'll see from what i understand the president's going to make his personal pitch, make his plea. the question is does it become a full-fledged debate at that dinner between the president, and putin, or does putin sort of hang back a little bit and watch the president frankly struggle a little bit convinszing some folks in that room because that room is as divided as congress is. >> and, chuck, as you've been reporting, the president knows his team knows that members of congress, democrats in particular, want him to address the nation. want him to explain this before the vote takes place. we know that they come back in to session pro forma on monday. the senate then has to gear up and i'm told by the house sources that it's likely the
10:13 am
house will hang back and see whether the senate passes it. they might then adopt the senate version, depends on the timing of that. so when might the president go public? >> i think you start looking at the window, everybody i've talked to thinks that the president could be most effective the closer to the actual first vote. so, you know, work backwards. the senate votes tuesday, you might hear from him monday night. if the senate votes wednesday, you might hear from him tuesday night. but that -- that's the idea they think that at the -- if they are going to use him in this ways way, where he does this, he hasn't done it a lot, prime-time address to talk about particularly talk about this issue, he's been urged to do it, they're receptive, white house gets it, they know that at this point they probably have no choice because frankly they've put all their eggs into this congress basket they're going to end up doing it, and it just as a matter of the timing of the
10:14 am
vote i know that reid is talking about speeding up the time line of the vote. at this point i don't think the white house wants that. i think they don't mind it, stretching through the weekend, and then making, you know, try to make the focal point essentially wednesday and thursday of next week. >> let's just say about monday night, being really bad idea, eagles/redskins, rg3's return. >> by the way, there are -- >> hello. >> there are a lot of rg3 -- andrea, there are a lot of -- look they're not -- they've run into football problems before. they, they know a skeptical public you don't want to make them angry. we laugh about this and you think well geez what do you care about football? but they do want to make sure they speak on a night that people are paying attention and they're not distracted. as much as we joke about rg3, it -- that stuff does play into their planning. >> and chris cillizza you and your colleagues at "the washington post" have been doing a great whip count as of 12:30
10:15 am
today, we we were getting ready to go on our with our graphics what was your latest count? >> well, in the -- i'll tell you this, andrea, let me give you the broadest specter and i take almost no credit for it. a colleague of mine who works and writes for the fix named aaron blake is spear heading this. i checked with him right before i came on. since tuesday morning let's talk about the house because i think that's where the real, real fight ultimately will be. since tuesday morning, 34 on tuesday morning we had 34 people saying that they were nos. outward they were going to be no on this resolution. there are 85 today. roughly two days later. at that time on tuesday morning we had 17 hard yeses in the house. there are 19 hard yeses today. so, more than double the nos. two more yeses. i'm, you know, check and i were on yesterday i believe talking about this and he mentioned the idea of a presidential address. you know, i'm not sure that they have any choice but to have the president speak at this point, because -- the rallying of
10:16 am
democrats is not yet happening. now the vote in the house certainly isn't for a little while but it's not happening yet. can this president, who has struggled in his relationship with congress, including democrats in congress, can even this president out making the case, can he sway public opinion enough in a short period of time to turn around some of the folks that kelly talked to in michigan? that's the question here. i think the longer they wait the worse for them, members come back, they talk to one another, oh, your constituents don't want it either? they feel sort of safety in numbers. i think you're in a danger point here for the white house as it relates to getting that house -- looking like there's momentum at least building behind a yes in the house. >> and are they 85 of those 85 can you give an idea of whether momentum is building against it among democrats more than republicans or is it a combination? >> well so i looked. i looked right before we came on at the yeses, andrea and there are only 11 hard yeses among house democrats.
10:17 am
one of those is nancy pelosi. another is debbie wasserman schultz, chairwoman of the democratic national committee. there are 20 and i'm estimating here, but i believe there are 29 hard nos among democrats. that includes a barbara lee of california, some people who have been very anti-sort of conflicts in iraq et cetera. the issue here is given the specter of iraq, the white house has gone out of its way to say this is not iraq, and made that point repeatedly, but remember the last huge foreign policy vote many of these people took was iraq and they felt as though that went awry and think worry about doing the same again. >> that's exactly the point that was being made over and over again to secretaries kerry and hagel yesterday at the hearing. thank you very much, kelly. thanks, chuck. >> thank you. >> and here in washington, girl power, the word from the national zoo today, that the 2-week-old giant panda, yes, it's a girl. i don't know how you tell but scientists can. the scientists from the smithsonian announced the
10:18 am
panda's gender this morning and were able to determine the panda's father using dna testing. sticking with tradition, she will not be given a name until she is 100 days old. [ male announcer ] at northrop grumman, we know in the cyber world, threats are always evolving. at first, we were protecting networks. then, we were protecting the transfer of data. and today it's evolved to infrastructure... ♪ and military missions. we're constantly innovating to advance the front line in the cyber battle, wherever it takes us. that's the value of performance. northrop grumman.
10:19 am
10:20 am
♪ [ male announcer ] bob's heart attack didn't come with a warning. today his doctor has him on a bayer aspirin regimen to help reduce the risk of another one. if you've had a heart attack, be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.
10:21 am
with limited airstrikes against syria accomplish the president's goal of deterring assad from using chemicals again and degrading his cape at? steve hadley served as national security adviser to president george w. bush and joins me now. thanks very much for being with us. what is your opinion as to the efficacy of what the president is proposing? >> well, what the president is proposing is the demonstration strike designed to deter syria from using chemical weapons again.
10:22 am
and to degrade his capability to do so. and that's a fine objective. unfortunately, it doesn't solve the problem of syria or vindicate our interests there which are three additional interests. one, of course, is the humanitarian crisis, 100,000 people killed. secondly, a sectarian war in syria that risks spreading and destabilizing lebanon iraq and turkey. and finally, an emerging safe haven for al qaeda in northern syria. the kind of limited strike the president is talking about won't deal and solve any of those other problems, and in some sense those are as important if not more important for u.s. international interests as the cw issue. >> is it worth doing that if that is the only thing that the administration is willing to do right now and certainly the only thing congress might be willing to support? >> it is not nearly enough, but it is better than nothing. if the president having established this red line does not -- and assad having crossed
10:23 am
it, the united states does not take some action it will make american red lines, and commitments null and void. and, of course, the whole world is watching, but most particularly, iran is watching. iran, which has been told that if it proceeds with its nuclear program all options are on the table, and america would use military force if necessary to prevent iran from having the bomb. if we are not willing, and the president is not willing, and the united states is not willing to enforce the red line on cws by syria, iran will not take seriously the red line about if it continues on its nuclear program. we will use military force. and it is only that -- that commitment by the united states i think that may cause iran to enter into negotiations and give up its nuclear weapon program. otherwise we're faced with that difficult choice of either accepting iran with a nuclear weapon or using military force
10:24 am
to unattractive options. >> i don't want to relate gate iraq but the blunt fact is some of the questions that were asked congressman vargas asked both kerry and hagel yesterday are you lying because we were lied to about weapons of mass destruction. there is such a credibility gap between the white house and congress, the hangover from the iraq war. so can you be at least a little sympathetic to what the administration is encountering now with congress, in explaining the intelligence and getting people to believe it? >> sure. i mean the problem in iraq was not that anybody lied the problem was we relied on intelligence and the intelligence was wrong and that's why one of the questions here, again, another use of military force that seems premised on intelligence, is that intelligence sound, is it reliable. and those are legitimate questions to ask. the administration has to make its case, and at that point from
10:25 am
what i've seen it seems pretty compelling. but one of the other problems here is the administration has not prepared the american people for this. this what's been going on in syria has been going on for two years and the administration's position has been, in large measure, this isn't our fight, we're not really going to get involved in any sort of active and public way. and there's been no explanation in the american people of what is at stake in syria. for almost a two-year period. and that makes it very difficult in this short period of time to turn that around and built support for doing taking some action in syria. i think the administration is making its case. it's just -- it's got a pretty big deficit of having not explained what's going on to the people in america. >> one of the biggest problems is vladimir putin. just now the new u.n. ambassador samantha power made her debut
10:26 am
performance and talked about putin blocking any action at the u.n. let's watch. >> russia continues to hold the council hostage and shirk its international responsibilities, including as a party to the chemical weapons convention. what we have learned, what the syrian people have learned is that the security council the world needs to deal with this crisis is not the security council we have. >> paraphrase, of course, of defense secretary rumsfeld but what do you say to vladimir putin today or yesterday rather called john kerry a liar? look it was over the top. putin is wont to do this. obviously the administration has been very clear that there is al qaeda elements in the opposition, and i think one of the concerns that americans and the administration need to be concerned about is al qaeda in the process of establishing the
10:27 am
kind of -- in northern syria that they were seeking to establish in western iraq and it was only the surge in 2007 and 2008 that prevented that. and i think all of us, the united states, the regional states, the international community including russia, have to be worried about the opportunity that the ongoing violence in syria is presenting for al qaeda. and at some point i think and i would hope that putin is going to understand that he's on the wrong side of the syria issue. and that his interests and the interests of stability in the middle east turn on resolving that situation in a way that has assad leading, and moderates, and taking control and working with regime elements to establish a new kind of syria, and a syrian government that is willing to take on the al qaeda problem in northern syria. we can't do it. we don't, it's not the kind of
10:28 am
thing you can do with a drone campaign you need people on the ground and those are going to have to be syrian moderates, supported by the united states, who are willing to take on the al qaeda otherwise we're going to have an al qaeda safe haven in northern syria and that's not in anybody's interest. >> steve hadley, former national security adviser, thank you very much. >> thanks. and coming up soon, former congressman patrick kennedy. we're going to be talking about mental health. stay with us. th rice. mexican-style chicken tortilla. if you think campbell's 26 new soups sound good, imagine how they taste. m'm! m'm! good! ♪ and i'll never desert you ♪
10:29 am
♪ i'll stand by you yeaaaah! yeah. so that's our loyalty program. you're automatically enrolled, and the longer you stay, the more rewards you get. great! oh! ♪ i'll stand by you ♪ won't let nobody hurt you ♪ isn't there a simpler way to explain the loyalty program? yes. standing by you from day one. now, that's progressive.
10:30 am
10:31 am
yeah... try new alka seltzer fruit chews. they work fast on heartburn and taste awesome. these are good. told ya! i'm feeling better already. [ male announcer ] new alka seltzer fruits chews. enjoy the relief! >> and wouldn't it be great in our health care system that the most important organ in our bodies not be ignored. god forbid they ever ask us about whether we have suicide ideation with 36,000 americans taking their own lives every year. god forbid that any medical physician in this country does not ask about our mental health. and we're in the year 2013.
10:32 am
and we still don't have it as accepted practice that mental health is essential health to overall health. >> well, that is, of course, patrick kennedy, september is national suicide prevention month. but 56 the former congressman led the fight for mental health parity in health care coverage the law that he helped get passed five years ago still has not been put into effect. patrick kennedy is here. somehow that possible? >> health care reform came in 2010. that obviously took all the attention. mental health always gets sidelined. that's the problem. we need to keep mental health on the forefront of our health care agenda because frankly we can't treat any health issue if you do not treat mental health with it. you can't treat diabetes if you still have alcoholism. you can't treat cardiovascular disease if you have depression. it's all one person and we need to treat the whole person. i like to say i get a checkup from the neck up. because i need to have anxiety,
10:33 am
depression, substance abuse checked by my primary care doc just like my cholesterol and blood pressure. i think if we implement mental health parity in the way it needs to be, we will make it routine for not just mental health experts, but all health care providers who will include mental health checkups in the course of their treatment. >> i don't understand why hhs and you point out treasury, all these agencies have to sign off on this. the law was passed you fought passionately for it when you were in congress and five years later, it's still not impremted. >> well, first of all, health care reform is a big win for us because it eliminates the pre-existing condition clause. that disproportionately affected our community. we're looking for the rule that will define mental health. the law is very specific. if you provide coverage for diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease, if you treat heart attack or stroke this way you must treat a mental illness in the same respects. and, most of all, with health care reform, prevention is paid
10:34 am
for. and that's what we need most in mental health is early screening because like everything else, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. and unfortunately in mental health today we wait until the illness becomes really bad before we ever begin to treat it. that must change. this is suicide prevention month. 38,000 next year americans will take their own lives. that is inexcusable. 18 veterans a day take their life. that's inexcusable. we can do better because 90% of these people have an underlying mental health condition that is untreated. so the job of reducing suicide is really to treat the underlying mental health issue. and that's what hopefully parity will begin to do. >> and you've got public service announcement, because a lot of this is focused now on the military families, you've got families and returning veterans who have been disproportionately affected, most traumatic stress, just the whole separation from family, the anxieties that ensued. >> that's right.
10:35 am
what i find really galling is that we as a country still refer to these wounds as invisible. when you x-ray a veteran's brain after they've been exposed to concussion from a traumatic brain injury or they have trauma, post-traumatic stress, this is a real wound. this is visible wounds. and they need to be treated like any other physical wound. so i like to say unfortunately, our invisible wounds have been treated by an invisible system of care. because we haven't had mental health parity, i.e. equality, fully implemented in our country. and i hope the rule that the administration will release on this will adequately cover mental health like we would cover cancer, diabetes or cardiovascular disease. >> i met baby owen last year at the convention. >> yes. he met you, too. >> he certainly did. left his mark. >> yes. >> and i understand that there's another kennedy on the way. congratulations. >> thank you, andrea. >> when are you due? >> congratulations on your years of service.
10:36 am
>> well, but that's not really as big. another baby. >> mine's wonderful, and i'm blessed. and blessed to be in recovery today. andrea, because now i can be present for my children. and their future. and that's something i'm grateful for every day. >> and for everything you're doing for all of us around the country, teddy would be so proud. >> oh, thank you. >> and thanks again for coming here. coming up next, maryland congressman elijah cummings joining me. ♪ ♪ turn around ♪ every now and then i get a little bit hungry ♪ ♪ and there's nothing really good around ♪ ♪ turn around ♪ every now and then i get a little bit tired ♪ ♪ of living off the taste of the air ♪ ♪ turn around, barry ♪ i finally found the right snack ♪
10:37 am
♪ with our new, improved peanut butter chewy bars. before mike could see his banking and investing accounts on one page... before he could easily transfer funds between the two in real time... before he could even think about planning for his daughters' future... mike opened a merrill edge investment account and linked it to his bank of america bank account to help free up plenty of time for the here and now. that's the wonder of streamlined connections. that's merrill edge and bank of america.
10:38 am
10:39 am
i think the administration has yet to enunciate clearly a broader strategy. >> i'm not ready to vote on a resolution. i had more questions than i have answers. >> senators this morning going into an intelligence briefing
10:40 am
still on the fence. they and house members facing overwhelming criticism back home. from people who just do not want the u.s. to get involved in syria. maryland congressman elijah cummings joins me from b baltimore. you've been out and about. what are people telling you? >> well, andrea, they're saying they do not want the president to take this action. basically, andrea, they have the back 3 drop of iraq, and that's a very difficult back drop to have. when you had colin powell, one of the most trusted men in the world to come before us with inaccurate information, not his fault, but inaccurate information, and then they see us go in to a war for ten years, and costing us hundreds of billions of dollars and the loss of so many lives and injuries to our neighbors and our loved ones, which they will suffer many of them until they die, these are the kind of things that people have been saying to me, and i just literally ran into a nurse within the last
10:41 am
half an hour at johns hopkins, which is in my district and she said, i beg you, please, vote against this, and she said -- i said but don't you understand that these are biological and chemical weapons? you would expect a nurse would understand. she said, i understand, but she says, you know, people have been using these weapons for years. and she said, you know, i just came from my son's school, and they didn't even have books. so i mean why are we going to bomb some folks and we've got all our problems right here. and i think when you combine iraq, when you combine the fiscal situation that a lot of people find themselves in, and then all the questions that still remain, and any member of congress that goes in to this vote, even with the narrowing that has been done, and i applaud the senate for narrowing it, the committee for narrowing it, this resolution, you've got to assume and just based on all the things that i've heard and i've been in just about every briefing that the big elephant
10:42 am
in the room is what if, what's next? i think that that concerns a lot of people, too. >> what about secretary kerry and the president saying if we do not respond now, he'll use chemical weapons again, that there will be no deterrent? >> and certainly that is a difficult question. but, and that's the big question, but the other question is, is whether the cure that is being prepared, that is these limited strikes, and limited effort in scope and duration, whether that is a cure or whether that makes the situation worse. and i think that that's what members are grappling with. i admire members that have already made up their minds. because i'm telling you, as the more information i learn, the more i am convinced that we have got to try to figure out what happens after this. because i do believe, from everything that i've read, that president assad will retaliate. that he's going to do something. so the question is whether or not we're going to be prepared
10:43 am
to do that. that's why i've called on the president to come before the nation. and lay it out exactly why he wants us to do this. when i've gotten 95% of the calls coming into my office saying no, andrea, it makes it very difficult, and that's why the president has got to address my constituents. and by the way i have a constituency that voted 80% for the president. so it's not like they're not his friends. but they are very concerned about where we're going, and if we get in to this effort, where will it end? >> elijah cummings, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> the report from the district. and we'll be right back with a defense expert, answering some of the questions the congressman raised. nts as you age? [ male announcer ] that's why there's ocuvite to help replenish key eye nutrients. ocuvite has a unique formula not found in your multivitamin to help protect your eye health. ocuvite. help protect your eye health.
10:44 am
10:45 am
10:46 am
your husband left his cell phone on. and you're not necessarily proud of that. but tonight, he made the pizza. ...with johnsonville italian sausage. the premium cuts of pork and perfect blend of herbs and spices gave every bite even more flavor. and everyone loved it. and you're definitely proud of that. johnsonville. served with pride since 1945. yeah... try new alka seltzer fruit chews. they work fast on heartburn and taste awesome. these are good. told ya! i'm feeling better already. [ male announcer ] new alka seltzer fruits chews. enjoy the relief! welcome back. as you've just heard from elijah cummings congress is raising many questions about what would happen after u.s. air strikes. will they deter assad or make the situation even worse?
10:47 am
would this be the first step toward greater involvement in the syrian civil war? joining me now to discuss all this is michele flournoy, former undersecretary of defense in this administration and key adviser to development of national security and defense policy. now a senior adviser for the boston consultant group. >> good to see you. >> what is the answer? would limited air strikes make it worse? would it deter assad? >> look, i think there are very important stakes involved here. first, the issue of upholding the international norm against the use of chemical weapons. second, u.s. credibility and leadership in the world. and third, knowing that the rest of the world is watching. what messages does iran take from either action or inaction? so i do think that limited, focused, strikes, focused on deterring further use of chemical weapons, degrading assad's ability to carry out such attacks, that those are something we need to support and
10:48 am
we need to do. but i also think we need to better explain to the american people and to congress the stakes involved, and the risks of not acting. what that would mean. >> does the president help himself and help explain the red line by saying, once he took the red line a year ago, and then emphasized that it had been crossed in june, and now send the secretary of state out so forcibly last week, when he gets on to sweden and says well this isn't my red line, this is the international red line. well it was his red line. he's the one who first said it. >> it's both. it is certainly president obama stated the red line. but that his statement was based on an international red line. it's a red line that was first drawn with the 1925 geneva convention and later redrawn again in the chemical weapons convention. and frankly, congress helped to draw that red line by ratifying that treaty when the u.s. signed it. so, there is a very clear red line that multiple parties have
10:49 am
reinforced over time and now it's very important, i think, to take action to reinforce that red line. >> vladimir putin in the last 24 hours has called john kerry a liar for this comment where he was explaining to congress, to a house committee, the balance between the al qaeda forces, and the moderate groups in the rebel leadership. let's watch. >> i just don't agree that a majority are al qaeda and the bad guys. that's not true. there are about 70,000 to 100,000 oppositionists, about somewhere maybe 15% to 25% might be in one group or another who are what we would deem to be bad guys. there are many different groups, al nusra, al shamra, they're different entities and sometimes they're fighting each other. even now. >> now, he is doing his best to explain to the house, and the
10:50 am
state department has clarified that it is his belief that he was responding to a question about whether or not the majority were extremists, and he's long expressed concern about the violent extremists but was conveying that there is a et was conveying that there's a broader majority of moderates. "the new york times" today has this horrifying picture of rebels allegedly executing government troops at point blank range and tossing the bodies into a hole in the ground. that does not help the u.s. argument either. >> the u.s. is very up front in announcing that there are al qaeda elements on the ground and we don't want to see them establish a safe haven. there are others who have cumulative committed human rights violations. that's why they're trying to vet this and they are going to receive or are going to receive the nonlethal weapons.
10:51 am
that's the right course of action. the majority of the opposition is what we would consider to be moderate, could be a part of a transitional government in syria should assad actually step down, but i think the administration has to put all of these pieces together. this is a moment of opportunity for them to clearly lay out a syria strategy, what our interests are, what's at stake, what they're propose, what they're not proposing. this is not an iraq style intervention. this is not about putting american boots on the ground for a very long war. this is a very limited strike for a very, you know, particular reason. so i think the president has an opportunity to make that case to try to persuade people like representative cummings we heard from. >> thank you very much. we'll be right back. stay with us. are you kidding me? we're always working to lower costs so you get more savings. that's incredible. you ready? wow! i know, that's the walmart low price guarantee. bring your receipt before game time skoo
10:52 am
who matters most to you says the most about you. at massmutual we're owned by our policyowners, and they matter most to us. whether you're just starting your 401(k) or you are ready for retirement, we'll help you get there.
10:53 am
10:54 am
10:55 am
. the president has just announced, the white house has just announced the president will not be going to california for the aflcio conference. i will be on the road, chris, because i'm going to be traveling with secretary kerry for a meeting of the arab league in europe. they'll be talking obviously about syria. i will be on the road for a couple of days starting at 4:00 tomorrow morning. >> hugely busy, andrea. huge week for syria in congress. if it doesn't start moving soon, it may not move for the president. >> chris, great to see you. thanks so very much. that does it for us. for this edition of "andrea mitchell reports." my colleague tamron hall has a look at what's next on "news
10:56 am
nation." >> in our next hour, president obama and vladimir putin meeting face to face at a working dinner. he called secretary of state john kerry a liar over syria. chuck todd will be reporting for us. he'll join us live on the latest on this crisis. plus, massive protests against walmart and more than a dozen cities and already there have been arrests. the retail giant is calling the protests, quote, a union orchestrated media stunt. we'll have the latest on this standoff. and backlash over an app that critics say is racist. the idea behind the app is to help you avoid poor dangerous areas. the original name of the app, ghetto tracker. the controversy on "news nation" gut check. yep, everybody knows that. well, did you know some owls aren't that wise?
10:57 am
don't forget i'm having brunch with meghan tomorrow. who? meghan, my coworker. who? seriously? you've met her like three times. who? (sighs) geico. fifteen minutes could save you...well, you know. ♪ now you can give yourself a kick in the rear! v8 v-fusion plus energy. natural energy from green tea plus fruits and veggies. need a little kick? ooh! could've had a v8. in the juice aisle. that's a good thing, but it doesn't cover everything. only about 80% of your part b medical expenses. the rest is up to you. so consider an aarp medicare supplement insurance plan,
10:58 am
insured by unitedhealthcare insurance company. like all standardized medicare supplement plans, they help save you up to thousands in out-of-pocket costs. call today to request a free decision guide. with these types of plans, you'll be able to visit any doctor or hospital that accepts medicare patients... plus, there are no networks, and you'll never need a referral to see a specialist. join the millions who have already enrolled in the only medicare supplement insurance plans endorsed by aarp... and provided by unitedhealthcare insurance company, which has over 30 years of experience behind it. with all the good years ahead, look for the experience and commitment to go the distance with you. call now to request your free decision guide. o0
10:59 am
no two people have the same financial goals. pnc investments works with you to understand yours and helps plan for your retirement. talk to a pnc investments financial advisor today. ♪ right now on "news nation," massive protests against walmart
11:00 am
in major cities across this nation, and there have already been arrests. breaking news in the fight for the little girl known as baby veronica. her biological father has been fighting to keep her is in court right now. plus, outrage over an app that tells you what neighborhoods to avoid and why so many are calling the app known as ghetto tracker, that's what it was originally called, they say it's racist. but, first, the "news nation" is following the president's face-to-face meeting with russian president vladimir putin over syria. it's happening right now. the so-called working dinner comes one day after putin called secretary of state john kerry a, quote, liar for denying al qaeda made up a majority of the rebel forces. also today in a disturbing video that's been released by "the new york times," from a rebel group this week, syrian rebels are seen posing over seven prisoners and then